The 49ers STEM Leadership Institute, created in partnership with the San Francisco 49ers, the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, and the Santa Clara Unified School District, is a six-year program that prepares students with high academic potential to be outstanding. The institute aims to inspire and prepare its students to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) majors at top-tier universities and become the future leaders in their fields.
The program is offered at no cost (inclusive of class time, materials, and additional academic support resources) and is located at Cabrillo Middle School (grades 7-8) and Santa Clara High School (grades 9-12).
All students who apply and are accepted during their 6th grade year will begin the program in 7th grade. Student cohorts enroll full-time at Cabrillo Middle School for the 7th and 8th grades and will continue with their cohort at Santa Clara High School for 9th through 12th grades. Transportation assistance available.
The inaugural year of the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute began in Summer 2014 with a cohort of 60 incoming seventh grade students. Each year, students advance with their cohort to the next grade level and a new cohort of 60 incoming seventh graders will be selected through a competitive application process each year. By the end of the six-year rollout process, there will be a total of 360 students from grades 7 – 12 involved in the program, located at Cabrillo Middle School and Santa Clara High School in the Santa Clara Unified School District.
“The 49ers STEM Leadership Institute’s vision is to be a leader in STEM education, preparing and inspiring talented learners to meet the challenges of the global society through innovation, collaboration and creative problem-solving.“
— 49ers co-chairman John York
What does the program look like?
Rigorous college-preparatory curriculum.
All students take enhanced Institute math and science courses together during the school day, building deeper understanding and finding real-world applications in their content classes, with integration between subject areas and the engineering lab. Students are also held accountable for the A-G curriculum required for college entrance.
State-of-the-art engineering lab.
As part of the international Fab Foundation network, the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute has two dedicated spaces equipped with resources needed to carry out extensive science, technology, engineering, and math projects. This includes digital fabrication tools (3D-printers, laser cutters, vinyl cutters, ShopBots), robotics kits, laptops and tablets, and other cutting edge technologies.
300+ hours of additional learning time each year.
Students deepen learning through hands-on projects, visits to local companies and laboratories, and preparation for local, state, and national competitions. Students also receive additional tutoring and mentoring. These activities take place after school every week, two Saturdays a month, and for three weeks each summer. Parents are asked to partner with the Institute to support these activities.
“Fab Labs give students experience working with tools, machinery and technology used today in STEM-related industries and helps them develop the critical skills needed to prepare them to become inventors and innovators of the future. The Fab Lab features a suite of digital fabrication tools and prototyping machines such as laser cutters, 3D printers, vinyl cutters and milling machines, used for ‘making almost anything.'”
— 49ers Staff
Advanced integrated curriculum
The program’s curriculum includes Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and interdisciplinary lessons and projects. It also strongly emphasizes the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute Core Values: collaborative spirit, communication, creativity, curiosity, determination, initiative, leadership, passion, and risk taking.
Enhanced learning opportunities
Students regularly participate in challenges and competitions that include (but are not limited to) FIRST Lego League (robotics), Tech Museum Tech Challenge, Maker Faire, Exploravision, science fair(s), AMC, and Math Olympiad. Extended learning time will be spent in the Chevron STEMZONE and Fab Lab Santa Clara High School to work on non-traditional curriculum such as coding/programming, electricity/circuits, and engineering/design challenges. All students have their own iPad for all six years of the program. All learning focuses on “design thinking,” a structured problem-solving process that emphasizes empathy and rapid prototyping and that empowers students to tackle real-world problems within their community.
Industry partnerships and opportunities
Students participate in field trips, benefit from specialized speakers and workshops, and gain access to mentorships and internships.
“In July 2014, the 49ers Foundation launched the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute, a collaborative education venture with 60 high-achieving 7th graders at the Chevron STEMZONE at Cabrillo Middle School in Santa Clara, Calif. The six-year program exposes students to a rigorous curriculum of science, technology, engineering and math, strengthening their skills to prepare them for eventual entry to top-tier colleges in STEM fields and STEM careers.”
— Emily Lucas, 49ers Communication Staff
49ers STEM Leadership Institute is proudly supported by